First-year tips from an upperclassman

Jacklyn York

Jacklyn York
Jacklyn York

You’ve made the grades, applied for college and now been accepted. Now, your days are spent in the pricey bookstore buying up all of the pens and daily planners. You’re eager and ready for your start into university life.


Your world is about to change.

FRIENDS. What friends? Not all of your friends are attending college and they’ll probably not always understand when you have to miss a party to “study.” Yes, it’s lame but you will say it. The truth is you may miss out on a lot of special events. You’ll see very little of your friends. More importantly, you will evolve into another person the more you prime your education. You may choose to lose some friends and that’s okay. It means your growing. The upside is, you will find more friends. Like-minded and just as busy friends that will understand your pressures. A few good friends may make it through your good and bad days but just be ready.

FAMILY. In a perfect world, your family is where you can be yourself and let your hair down. They may actually be the hardest ones to convince when you are passionate about something you learned or changed a political idea. In their defense, they’re used to one version of you and will take time to learn the transformation of young adult to adult. Be firm but loving but know that your family can just as fast be the ones you feel criticized by. It would also benefit you to give them a copy of your class schedule because they’ll not remember it and call you at the most inopportune times. By the time they’ve learned that you are in class, the semester will be over and you will have a new schedule to learn.

DRESS FOR SUCCESS. Yeah, right. If you’ve taken a tour before coming here then I’m sure you’ve seen how no one dresses up except for presentation day. We, too, were once eager and excited until about week three when coffee and red bull became our life-save. It shouldn’t exactly be a goal because you never know when you might just run into someone of importance and yoga pants don’t exactly sell you as serious. In the occasion that do find yourself losing momentum around week three, know you’re not alone. 

EAT HEALTHY. There will come a time when you’re finishing up a four page annotated bibliography and once you finally have a grip on doing it correctly, your stomach will growl. You’ll grab something fast and unhealthy. Something to shut your stomach up long enough to finish the task. Meals will come from vending machines, quick and instant meals at home and the occasional restaurant when you have to have adult conversation and get out of a textbook.

PROFESSORS. They’re not your friends. Don’t expect them to coddle you. The days of doing mediocre work and then crunching during finals is over. If they see you in your phone and handing in average work, they will NOT give sympathy because you “just have to pass this class or your parents will kill you.” They, too, sat in a lecture hall to get where they are today and it’s not their job to make sure you’re working at your full potential. If you find yourself falling behind or not grasping the material, communicate with them in way they state is best. It’s usually written in the syllabus. Show up on time, do the work with pride and be an active participant in your own education. After all, someone is paying for it. Get the money’s worth. While they are not your friends, they do want to see you succeed so understand their criticism as support.

TIME MANAGEMENT. Goodbye sleep! For every semester hour you’re enrolled, it’s highly encouraged to study an average of three hours. For example, if you’re enrolled in 12 semester hours, you should be spending 36 hours outside of class to achieve an A. This is not a polite suggestion. It does sound overwhelming but it will pay off. Time management is vital and you will learn to balance work, personal life and study time. Planning a routine with the same time each day set aside for studying is the best strategy. Highlighting the entire book isn’t necessary but note cards are a cheap an easy way to hit talking points. This will save you from cramming at midterms and finals. It would benefit you to let friends and family know these study hours so they’ll know it’s a bad time to call or come by. Put your phone up while studying. It’s only one more distraction that you don’t need.

You will survive.

The first year is probably the hardest but it won’t last forever.

If you are determined, the workload will be achievable and you will learn how and when to take much needed time for yourself. Before long, you will embrace the chaotic life and look as crazy as the rest of us.

The closer you get to your program of study the more you will love what you’re doing. Remember, the goal is to earn your degree  this may mean putting your personal life on the back burner. I’ve studied for finals inside a hospital room and made friends mad when they didn’t understand. The drive to succeed without excuses is necessary. You’ll have time for all those things and more after graduation.

Jacklyn York is a senior in mass communication.